The C4 Farm and Ranch Service lends a hand
I grew up on a cattle ranch in South Poe Valley, outside of Klamath Falls, not too far from Bonanza. I have extremely fond memories of hours riding with my late father for hours on end in a hot tractor, chopping silage in the summer, or in a freezing cold feed truck dishing out the silage to hungry cattle in the winter. My mind is full of sentimentality with recollections of many long cattle drives on Bryant and Stukel Mountains or doctoring the herd at the corals. Those involved were my parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins who all worked together as at loving team of best friends.
My parents raised me to have a deep faith in Jesus and to be proactive and bold in telling others about Him. On the farm and as young as 5, I was known to hang out by the fuel tanks where our hired hands would come in and out with thirsty equipment and tell the workers about the love of Jesus. I must have passed the time with a song on my lips because someone once spoke of me that I would become a "singing, preaching cowboy."
As the years passed and I found myself living the city life due to education or employment, I wondered if that was just the observation of a bygone era. The tugging of my heart to speak the words of His life into men and women of rural areas never went away and what seems like "the next thing I knew," I am living in Central Oregon and pastoring churches in Prineville and Paulina.
Of course, my desire to share of Jesus' saving ways is not limited to country folk, it's just that I have sensed an urgent calling toward a cultural people who I consider my brethren, and have a desire like the apostle Paul in Romans 9 that they would be saved. I believe that when God gives you a calling and desire to minister to a certain people group, He will open up those doors and propel you through them.
It was after about five years of living in Prineville that relationships began to form with ranchers and farmers who would graciously bestow on me the high honor of being invited to brandings or help gather and doctor cattle, put up hay or even help move pipe and fix fence. A ministry began to form that I titled "C4 Farm and Ranch Service" (named after the "Four C's" or our churches' former longer name, "Calvary Chapel of Crook County" now simply "Calvary Prineville").
The vision of C4 was that a number of believing farmers and stockman would come assist others in their times of need and bring helpful hope not only to the physical ag need at hand but also to the wide and deep need of their heart and soul through prayer and encouragement. The ministry's services have run a wide range from help with haying to cattle work and the occasional fence building or irrigation assistance. Many of the folks who have solicited my help also kindly helped hone my rusty childhood stockman skills to become more and more skillful.
I have found that many times a forest gather or post-branding feast would provide great opportunity to tell of the hope of Jesus or council a new friend in life's difficult time with Biblical guidance. Some have become followers of Jesus, turned from sin, grown in discipleship, strengthened their family, become part of a local church, including the fellowship that I pastor with another rancher out in Paulina. Even this week, a whole family will be baptized in their ranch reservoir as the church gathers to celebrate and barbeque out in the surrounding meadow.
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